Friday, August 22, 2014

Getting Ready to Go . . . Again

 Our pepper plants have finally kicked into high gear and we are regularly getting armfuls of beautiful green Padrón peppers. Traditionally a specialty of Northwest Spain these thin skinned peppers are most often served blistered (pan fried whole in olive oil) and sprinkled with coarse salt. Delicious tapas. While our plants are producing I'll serve the heirloom peppers as an appetizer and then scramble the leftovers into our morning eggs.
Like any vegetable Padrón's are best fresh -- and even more delicious right from the garden. I just couldn't abandon today's haul to our fridge drawers and walk away without a thought. So I decided to pickle a few jars to save for the sad pepperless months to come.
I hate to lose that bit of char quick frying adds so I decided -- very untraditionally -- to give my peppers a brief sauté before loading them into sterilized pint jars along with a peeled clove of garlic, one bay leaf, and a pinch of red chile flakes. Padrón peppers are mostly mild but every now and then -- with no warning a hot one pops up (Spanish roulette I've heard it called). I like the extra punch the chiles offer.
For my brine I used 3 cups of vinegar, 1 cup of water, 3 TB of sugar and 1 TB of salt boiled together until the sugar dissolved. I poured the hot brine over the waiting peppers (leaving about 1/4 inch headroom), wiped the jar's rims clean, screwed on the two-piece lids and processed in a hot water bath for 5 minutes to complete the seal. This winter I'll add these beauties to stews and sandwiches and count on their tangy brine to add zest to pan sauces and salads.

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